A Foray Into Upholstery – Part 2

I continued my project to renew a lidded footstool this week and again had a great morning, though this time felt significantly more productive.  Less destruction and more beautifying was definitely the order of the day.  If you haven’t read it yet or want a nosey at a ‘before’ shot, have a read of my first post A Foray Into Upholstery – Part 1.

Workbench with staple gun and uncovered footstool lid

My first job in the workshop was to secure the part of the foam edging I had enthusiastically removed at home, but which was staying (whoops!) I think this is point where I begin to relay my deep love of the staple gun and it’s amazing powers. Honestly I felt like a super hero. I want one. I have standard everyday one, but the ones at Maria’s workshop give a puff of pressurised air with every use which make you want to say pow! (That, in truth, may only be something that has occurred to me).

Once the foam was reattached, I cut a piece of 4oz polyester wadding to cover the whole unit and my cover fabric to size. I actually used a pair of curtains as my fabric which needed a little dismantling before I could get started.

New fabric laid over lid

This was then tacked into place to get the tension right. I started in the middle of each side, and working my way towards the corners.  I kept on doing a few tacks and then turning and doing the next edge so that it was tightened evenly.  The fabric has to be pulled and given tension, but not so much that it distorts the surface and edges.  I quickly got into the rhythm of this. It was so satisfying when the magnetic head of the hammer picked up a tack perfectly first time so it could be tapped directly into place.

4 tacks are present on each edge of the lid

Close up of tacked edge

Once all of the edges were done it was time to tack the corners.  These are significantly more fiddly!  Maria advised me to finish them with a fold/pleat on either side of each corner and after quite a bit of trial and error, I got them tacked in place.  I think this is where the process of tacking comes into its own.  The edges were so much more straightforward and I could see that someone with more expertise than me could do these with the staple gun without tacking first, but the corners needed more attention and precision to get them similar to each other and sitting just right.

All tacks in place ready for permanent staples

Once I was happy (and my work had been checked) it was time to staple the fabric for a permanent fix.  Yipee! More staples.  It feels like my deep hatred of staples, born from the removal of literally hundreds of the things in the preparation stage of this project simply melted away in the face of the fearsome and wonderful delight of the staple guns’ effortless power. Pow, POW!

Staple gun poised over tacked edge

Tack have been removed.  All edges have been stapled.

Close up of stapled corner section

The top fabric was now completed and I have to say I am really happy with the result. (Sorry about the dodgy photo!)

Finished top - it's covered in a duck egg fabric with a cream floral pattern

Now onto the lining.  After trimming the cover fabric particularly around the corners to reduce bulk I cut my lining fabric and a piece of 2oz weight polyester wadding.  This was laid on the front edge with a couple of staples to keep it in place.  Again it needed to have a bit of tension to keep it flat.

Lining laid along the front edge of the lid

Then I was given a narrow cardboard strip which was used to anchor both the lining fabric and wadding with plenty more staples. It was lined up to the edge of the wood part of the lid which I felt for as I secured it into place – this was so helpful in guiding where it should go.

Cardboard strip is stapled over wadding and lining fabric

Once the lining fabric is flipped over you can see the lovely clean finished edge, covering all the edges of the top fabric and looking pretty smart if I do say so myself.

Lining fabric now flipped over to reveal clean front edge

To secure the side and back edges of the lining I was given a metal claw strip which was fixed into place with – you’ve guessed it – more staples!

Metal gripped strip staples along edge of the lid

Initially open at 90 degrees, these were partially closed and then the lining fabric was pulled over and tucked into the crease so that the little teeth grabbed onto it.  The edges of the fabric were then trimmed and finally pushed into the crease and then the metal edging was closed with a plastic mallet.  Maria got me to use a fabric off-cut to go between the mallet and the lid to protect the lining fabric when I did this.  I left the corners for her to help me as these, again, are much more tricky to complete well.

Gripper strip along 3 edges of the lid

The finished edge of the lining looks so lovely and crisp.

My homework was to fit the lining to the base along with some wadding so that in my next workshop session I can hopefully just finish up the outside edges and complete the project.  

So at home, with my significantly less proficient staple gun, I started by covering the base panel, first with wadding and then lining fabric.

The wadding needed trimming on the corners on the reverse side before it was finished.

Next I added some wadding to the main frame which I loosely fixed in place with spray glue and then began the intricate task of fitting the lining fabric over the top. Now I’m not just saying this, but my staple gun was much harder to work with, meaning it was definitely more challenging to get everything secured in place.

A bit of perseverance later and I managed to finish it. I did thoroughly miss having someone to ask questions of and am slightly dreading finding out I’ve made a terrible mistake or two. But for now, I’m really pleased with how it’s taken shape and am extremely excited to get back into the workshop and finish it off. 

And I’m not going to lie, part of my excitement is about getting my hands on that staple gun again…

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